Pakistan detects jump in suspicious deals amid FATF heat
Pakistani authorities detected 8,707 suspicious financial transactions last year in the country’s banking system, an increase of almost 57% over the previous year, at a time when the country is facing growing pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for failing to curb terror financing.
The Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), Pakistan’s central agency for probing information related to money laundering and terror financing, issued 8,707 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) last year, as against 5,548 STRs in 2017. A total of 1,136 STRs were issued in January and February alone, Dawn newspaper reported on Monday.
During a recent meeting, authorities reported to PM Imran Khan that terror financing is a serious issue from a global perspective, and it is in Pakistan’s interest to “put its house in order”, the report said.
At its plenary meeting in Paris last month, FATF said Pakistan has made limited progress in curbing terror financing and didn’t show proper understanding of the terror financing risks posed by Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, al-Qaeda, Islamic State and Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD). Pakistan was placed on the multilateral watchdog’s “grey list” and must comply with an action plan by September.
FATF’s warning to Pakistan to deliver on commitments to curb terror financing has “virtually put the country’s entire machinery into an aggressive mode to show tangible progress within two months”, Dawn reported.
The achievement of 27 targets under a 10-point action plan has become a “top priority” for the government, which last month announced a move to ban JuD and its front Falah-e-Insanyat Foundation (FIF) to address concerns raised by India that Pakistan supported these organisations or considered them low-risk entities, the report said.
JeM’s claimed of responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack allowed India to increase pressure on Pakistan at last month’s meeting of FATF, which condemned the assault, saying such incidents could not occur without the movement of funds between terrorist supporters.
The report said inter-ministerial consultations were being held almost on a daily basis to address weaknesses pointed out by the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) of FATF. ICRG assessed a progress report on Pakistan submitted by the Asia Pacific Joint Group, a regional associate of FATF.
Six banks have also been fined and 109 bankers are being investigated for opening fake bank accounts. MoUs are being signed with the UK, Qatar, UAE and Australia for financial intelligence-sharing and Pakistan is trying to improve coordination among government agencies through centralised software.